Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Multiple Stories in the Works: How Can We Prevent the Multitasking Woes?

    For the past few months I’ve had at least three, and sometimes four or more, projects going at the same time. I’m doing research for and writing two novels and a five-thousand word short story. In between, I fit in blog posts, author interviews, reviews, and posts for social media. All that must make me happy. Right? I’m a writer, and a writer enjoys thinking, creating, writing.
   The truth is I do appreciate this new phase of my writing career. The ideas are there, people are asking me to write, and I love the variety. The main problem I have is finding time. I keep telling myself that each project is important. If I drop one for a week because I’m on a roll with another—hey, it’ll be fine.
   For instance, because I wanted to finish my short story that has a submission deadline in March in time to run it by my writing group in February, I gave up novel writing for a week or so in order to research, write, and revise the story. Now, I’m back gathering research for my barely-begun novel and writing the fourth book in my Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteryseries. Down side—I needed to think through my mystery from the beginning before I could continue writing.

Rethinking the story wasn’t all bad. It helped me resolve aspects of the plot, which is energizing. Too, I feel a freedom at having completed one project and have another waiting to delve into. Even writing this blog post about my multitasking woes has helped pacify the irrational tension I experience when I dwell on lack of time and focus. In fact, to make life easier, I’ve concocted a list of what I or any author might do when in this situation:
1. Prioritize a list of your projects and their deadlines, if any.
(Don’t give yourself unreasonable deadlines where they don’t exist—having nervous breakdowns isn’t good for authors.)

2. Each morning, compose a list of the writing you want to accomplish each day—goals.
(It can be just one thing—a chapter or a number of words. Trying to write three chapters when your day includes cooking and cleaning house for company might lead to writing in a straight jacket.)
3. Be flexible—carry over unfinished goals to another day.
(You might run into a snag that takes you back to the Internet, the library, or a field trip for more research—or to watching those funny cat videos on Facebook.)

4. Have patience—don’t let interruptions by family or friends drive you up the wall.
(Spiders and flies don’t write well.)
5. Remember, you read more than one book, watch more than one television series, and have conversations with more than one friend and manage to keep them all straight. Writing projects are no different.
Now, to follow my own advice. Patience may be the hardest for me. Do you have more than one writing project going at once? Do you have any advice about how to manage them? May all of us learn the

and be inspired.


Neil Waring said...

You have described my writing life to perfection. I always have multiple books and blogging projects going, write what my mood says. This is also a clever way to keep from editing.

Joyce Ann Brown said...

Ha, ha. I didn't think of avoiding editing. Sounds as if you are enjoying life; so keep up the writing!

Amy Reade said...

Great post, Joyce! I always say that if you're talented enough to have more than one project at a time, you're a very lucky writer. I think you make some great points, especially about flexibility. There are times when the words just won't flow, and on those days it's okay to do something else and come back to your writing when your brain is clearer. Having just handed in edits on one book and with a deadline looming one week from today, I am focused on just one project right now. But after that, I plan to be working on two novels simultaneously. One thing I've found helpful is to get some exercise. I feel better about myself and about writing when I sit back down at the keyboard.

Gloria Getman said...

Good tips, all of them. Thanks.

G. B. Miller said...

I stopped doing that very recently. Between maintain two blogs (9 1/2 years running) and wanting to write, I was putting myself into a permanent conundrum which wasn't doing me any good.

Now, I maintain a weekly blog that has one basic theme tying all the tangents together (almost like writing a serialized story), use the other blog as a feeder to that one (Tumblr doesn't really allow commenting on posts), which in turn has allowed me to find the passion that was sorely lacking again for my writing.

Father Nature's Corner

Joyce Ann Brown said...

Good idea to get exercise, Amy. I played tennis this morning and feel energized. Good for you G.B. Miller. I need to cut down, too.

Liane Spicer said...

I always have several works in progress, but have realized I can only focus on one of them at a time.

Great tips on managing the beasts!